6 October – 6 November 2006


Pierre Lionel Matte
Birgitte Sigmundstad
Curator: Eivind Slettemeås
UKS in association with the Pillar Foundation

“Public diplomacy, in its attempt to affect the attitudes and opinions of foreign publics, involves the entire communications spectrum, modern communications technology as well as such other methods of intercultural communication as well as cultural and educational exchanges, libraries, publications and people.”
– Hans Tuch, “Communicating with the world: U.S. Public Diplomacy Overseas”

An equivalent concept to Public Diplomacy is lacking in the Norwegian language, and the content varies depending on countries’ international orientation. The concept can both point to the self-projected image of a nation, and the influence of a nation upon other countries. In the 20th Century, Norwegian art and culture were used as main means to position Norway in the world. The pathos of nationalism, expressed through characterizations of indigenousness and national heritage, does not communicate non-problematic today.

The wish to act as `global players` on the global stage of financial markets and media, makes it more desirable to nations to be impersonated with a “promising national character”. Among the most famous examples, we find `Cool Britannia` and `The Irish Tiger`. This is why Omdømmerådets sluttrapport (2005) to the Foreign Department, proposes a Norwegian version of Public Diplomacy, to be carried out by a prospected national forum of repute. The task of the forum should be the promotion of a national image based on peace engagement, aid policy, and adjacency to nature.

Ideas about art as bridge-maker and change-maker, whether this occurs in real or imaginary stages of international politics, is a recurring theme in this exhibition. Birgitte Sigmundstad and Pierre Lionel Matte are both referring to the problems of political idealism, represented as unstable transitions between the officially representative and the visually seductive. The second part of Public Diplomacy will be a collaboration between UKS and the Pillar Foundation, taking its’ departure from the art institution as an arena for international relations and democratic development, and the projected image of Norway as a beneficiary country.

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